Electric Vehicle Charging Options In The U.S.

1 year ago by Mark Kane 16

hyundai sonata phv charging charge port CAIS 2016

Hyundai’s New Sonata PHEV charging

EVgo inaugurates its 100th California Freedom Station by increasing capacity to serve four times more drivers at a single site

EVgo’s Freedom Station in California – four DC fast chargers (CHAdeMO/CCS Combo and single J1772 AC charging station on the left)

Most electric vehicle veterans and enthusiasts are familiar with the topic of EV charging and all its variations; but for those who are new (the rest of the 99% of new car sales) it’s still more black magic.

U.S. DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy comes to the rescue with a helpful presentation about charging station technology in the US (graphic below)..

At the basic level, there are AC (Alternating Current) charging options (using an on-board charger) and DC (Direct Current) options (using an off-board charger, of typically much higher power).

Both AC and DC charging can be done at various power levels, which depends both on the charging staton and the car (separately some conditions can lower the charging power – high or low temeperature for example). Not all cars are equipped with DC fast charging, and accepted power inputs differs – both in the case of AC and DC.

On top of the basics, there are different charging plug standards and charging networks. Different brands uses different DC fast charging standards, while in case of AC, thankfully everyone sticks with a common plug – SAE J1772, which is what is used most often (~99.8% of the time) in residential applications.

The topic of charging is not only complicated at the moment, but also still isn’t finalized, as the industry needs to (and should) evolve to an ultimate standard, and then scale up to the most usable power levels (especially for DC fast charging – as of now aiming in the 150 kW range).

AC charging:

  • Level 1 – J1772 – 120 V, 16 A and some 1.9 kW
  • Level 2 – J1772 – 240 V, up to 80 A and some 19 kW (typicially in most models between 3.3 kW to 7.2 kW)

DC charging:

  • CHAdeMO – usually found 20-60 kW
  • CCS J1772 Combo – usually found 20-50 kW
  • Tesla Supercharger – ~120 kW

At the early stages, DC fast charging at 50 kW was often called Level 3, but few years ago SAE released papers presenting Level 1 and Level 2 steps also for DC charging (DC Level 1 up to 40 kW, and DC Level 2 up to 100 kW). All in all, it’s only definition is not that much needed for the user, because charging power is “negotiated” between charging station and the car. Anyway, more than 100 kW would now be considered Level 3.

The higher the charging power, the quicker range is replenished. Depending on the car we could assume 15-20 kW is needed to add 60 miles of range in an hour. If you double the power, you will be able to charge twice faster (provided the EV is able to accept).

At higher power levels, charging power is significantly decreased with the increasing state of charge of the battery – so don’t count on a constant 40kW input in say a BMW i3, Spark EV, or a constant 100-135 kW DC fast charging for a Tesla. The average power will be lower than peak capability of the DC fast charger, so it’s smart to charge from low state of charge to 50-80% after which charging slows down even more.

Plug-in Electric Vehicle Charging Options (source: energy.gov)

Some Plug-in Electric Vehicle Charging Options (source: energy.gov)

AC = Alternating Current. DC=Direct Current.

U.S. Department of Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, “Developing Infrastructure to Charge Plug-In Electric Vehicles,” website accessed 3/04/2016.

Tesla Motors, “Supercharger,” website accessed 3/04/2016.

Plug-in Cars.Com, “Denver Airport To Install Level 1 120-Volt Charging for Electric Cars,” website accessed 3/08/2016”

source: energy.gov

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16 responses to "Electric Vehicle Charging Options In The U.S."

  1. Bill says:

    Tesla goes up to 135kW. You guys should know that.

    1. A few of inaccurate points:
      1. Tesla DC (Supercharger) stations have paired charging points (stalls) which share charging power. Maximum power at a stall can range from ~60–135kW depending on a vehicles state of charge and there being one, or two EV charging at the same time.
      2. Tesla High-Power AC option is omitted from the diagram “Plug-in Electric Vehicle Charging Options”. This is significant as there are ~800 HPWC (high-power wall chargers) in the U.S. able to supply ~10–18 kW.
      3. The real (maximum) power level supplied is determined by the PEV based on available capacity not yet charged. The larger the uncharged battery capacity the faster a PEV can charge and the higher the power level it will be able to request. For this reason, PEVs with larger capacity packs will be able to obtain a greater amount of energy (kWh) in a given period of time.
      ie: a PEV with limited battery capacity will not likely be able to draw the maximum power that a charger is capable of supplying. (a fact commonly omitted by manufactures and charging network services)

      1. Jay Cole says:

        The “~120 kw ” means approx. – as the power at the station can vary as mentioned. You may note that the CHAdeMO/CCS is also estimated in the same section, however a more specific range is given for those, as the low end (~20 kW) can be a significant difference in wait times over the ‘traditional norms’ of the standard (50 kW). The +/- on the Tesla is more or less inconsequential 98% of the time

        Tesla AC – In this case, we didn’t make the diagram (it is from energy.gov) and it says “some charging options”

        We note the battery capacity/state of charge as being a factor in the charging rates “charging power is significantly decreased with the increasing state of charge of the battery”

        Overall, the story is meant to cover the basics, in as straight forward manner as possible…it is easy to get tied down in the minutiae of the thing. I think if one adds “all” the knowledge to the piece, then it would render itself useless to anyone except those who already know everything. That said, maybe we should run a separate “this is everything/everywhere/advanced 101” piece at some point too.

      2. Thanks Jay, you make a good point(s).

        If possible, it might be a good investment of time for InsideEVs to make your own “charging options” graphic as the topic a raises from time to time.

        1. Jay Cole says:

          Hey Brian,

          Yes, good suggestion, that would be a nice addition to the charging guide tab.

  2. vdiv says:

    Psst, there are still cars and stations out there with the Mangne Charge J1773 port. Hats off to these EV owners! 🙂

    There are also plugless inductive implementations and standards taking shape.

    Lastly there are still some Tesla Roadster plugs out there.

    My pet peeve, no 3-phase AC charging this side of the pond that rivals DCFC with 43 kW at much lower cost for the station.

  3. Bill Howland says:

    “…My pet peeve, no 3-phase AC charging this side of the pond that rivals DCFC with 43 kW at much lower cost for the station…”

    I think Renault would be pleased to sell you a 43 kw zoe, along with a European wall box, and all you need to do is have a competant electrician provide the 230Y/400 for your garage.

    Three things you must purchase:

    1). A tranformer to make 400 volts from the 240 in your home.
    2). A phase converter to make the 3 phase.
    3). A zig-zag grounding transformer to generate the “Y” connection the wall box needs.

    Emphasis on ‘competant’ electrician. The thing will work on 60 hz just fine.

    He will also have to run a 225 ampere feeder to your garage, so you’ll need a 300 or 400 amp electric service to your house.

    1). An autotranformer

  4. RobSez says:

    Great article for new EV folks. Well done!

    I just want to add two things. First, in the real world there are several factors that affect charge time, regardless of estimated charge time or type of charger. For example, I have had 3 Nissan Leafs since the fall of 2010 and currently drive a 2015 SL. I have one of the original Blink L2 chargers (circa 2010) installed in my garage. After repeated tests over the years at various times and under different temperature conditions I get 25-26 miles range the first hour no matter what. After that it varies. Fortunately, standard charge with the newer 6.6 kW charger is about 4 hours now vs the old 3.3 kW version at 5.5 hours. When I plug in to most of the Blink L2 chargers around town I tend to get closer to between 30 and 32 miles for the first hour of charge. Always remember, ‘your mileage may vary’.

    My second piece of advice is spend the extra money and get the ‘Fast Charge/L3’ option, no matter what. Just suck it up and do it. You’ll thank me later. Our second Leaf lease car didn’t have CHAdeMo capability. This severely limited longer local trips, especially in cold weather conditions. For example, my mother’s house is 54 miles minimum each way to visit. Normally, I arrive there with around 40% charge. I stop at a nearby L3/CHAdeMo on the way home for about 10 minutes, which give me about 70%-75% charge. Without the L3 capability, I had to spend an hour to an hour and 15 minutes at a L2 for that same 70%. The whole time the unused L3 stood there next to the L2 silently mocking me. Of course in very cold weather I might arrive at the charger with more like 20%-25% charge.

    That reminds me that I have a third thing to add. Always bring something to read and some good music to listen to, just in case.

  5. Bill Howland says:

    Ooops, the restaurant I was at cut me off.
    ALternatively, you could do it with 2 devices:

    1). Phase Converter to make 240 Delta
    2). 3 phase transformer with Y secondary to make 230Y/400 for the Renault wallbox.

    Not a large amount of cash to do the above.

    $4100 for the phase converter (rotary), $2300 for the 45 kva transformer, unless you can find the right voltages on EBAY (most there are around $300-400)

    1. vdiv says:

      Bill, we’ve had this conversation before. I’m not talking about home use. Most public charging in the US is supplied by 3-phase power.

      Also, I would be very happy if Nissan-Renault started selling the Zoe, the Fluence, the Kangoo ZE, and even the Twizzy in the US.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Good. Tell your local business to install some.

        But CCS and Chademo and Superchargers are all there is for the time being.

  6. Vinny says:

    Another electric vehicle charging option in the US are the campgrounds with NEMA 14-50 outlets. In many places they are the only option you have.

    1. Mike I says:

      That is true if you have the foresight to bring your own portable EVSE.

  7. SparkEV says:

    Combo is usable by Tesla? I didn’t know Tesla has CCS adapter, at least not yet.

    1. anon says:

      +1 I didn’t know that either. Does anyone have a link?

  8. Billl Howland says:

    Since Level One is supposedly 1.9 kw, and supposedly the only car that can do this is an I3, has anyone ever come up with the facilities to do this?

    Or put another way, at 120 volts has anyone ever charged a car at faster than 12 amps?

    (Other than my Roadster which would do 15, of course).